Skip to main content
Seattle University

All Things Jesuit

Jesuit anniversaries

September 24, 2013

Four Jesuits who are or have been members of the Arrupe community are celebrating notable milestones this year. From left to right: James Reichmann, S.J., who moved to Spokane this summer after decades as a philosophy professor and member of the Arrupe community; Mike Kelliher, S.J., who is currently living in California after serving in the Department of Criminal Justice for more than 30 years; Ron Funke, S.J., who lives off campus but is a member of the SU Jesuit community;and Bill O'Malley, S.J., a member of the New York Province who is in his second year as a visiting professor in Matteo Ricci College.
JesuitJubilarians2013_ATJ

Full of wonder

September 10, 2013

 By Matthew Pyrc, S.J.

This summer eight students, five recent SU alumni and two staff members journeyed to Brazil for MAG+S 2013, culminating with World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro on Copacabana beach with Pope Francis. It was a time of wonder--2,500 people on immersion, three million people at the Papal mass on Copacabana beach! Full of wonder is my description of the three weeks; wonder at the intrinsic goodness of humanity. The joy and excitement of bringing strangers together from across the globe instills hope of the great accomplishments people can achieve when we come together.  

The song "Wonder" by Emeli Sand became an unofficial theme song for MAG+S 2013 and was used in a flash-mob dance by the 2,500 pilgrims from Jesuit institutions from around the world. Three lines from the song resonate with the MAG+S pilgrim experience, first: "I can beat the night, I'm not afraid of thunder, I am full of light, I am full of wonder." 

The pilgrim experience reminded us of the Gospel message that all of humanity and creation is created by God, loved by God and worthy to be loved. 2,500 pilgrims, mostly Jesuit university students, gathered in Slavador de Bahia, Brazil (the Jesuits first arrived in the New World in Bahia in 1553) to begin a 10-day pre-World Youth day event. 

To kick off MAG+S 2013 there was a celebration called a Welcoming of Nations. Delegates from various countries danced and sang, many in full cultural costumes to celebrate our diversity in the body of Christ. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., the general superior of the Jesuits, preached at a mass before sending the delegates in experience groups for an immersion. In his homily he told the story of a diocese choosing a giraffe as its symbol--an animal with one of the biggest hearts because it needs a big heart to pump blood all the way to its brain. Because of its long neck it has a high point of view.

"Humanity is more than any one of us has experienced in our own countries" he stated. Approaching the people of Brazil and their fellow pilgrims with a big heart and a broad view can change their lives. He reminded us that our faith resides in our hearts. He challenged us to not get caught up in seeing the sights and miss the people. He encouraged us to see the people, engage the people, heart to heart and we will be changed. We then were divided into experience groups, comprised of various nationalities and multiple languages and sent all over the country for an immersion. Some went on a spiritual pilgrimage, some had a cultural immersion, some did service. All were transformed. 

Another line from the flash-mob song, "Wonder": "This light is contagious, go, go tell your neighbors, Just reach out and pass it on. "Go to your neighbor, MAG+S/WYD was an experience of community. It was noted by several planners of MAG+S that sending people on immersion in groups of various language could be a disaster--no one being able to understand each other. However, that was not to be the case. People took time to sit with each other, find ways to communicate and to share in whatever way they could. It was the common language of the heart that took a potential Tower of Babel experience and made it a Pentecost experience (in which each heard the gospel in their own language). People quickly bonded and formed community with their experience group. 

SU student Delaney Piper had this to say: 

 "One night my Magis small group celebrated Festa Junina with a group staying in São Paulo. We'd been very busy earlier in the day, and many were exhausted and in no mood to celebrate. Some of the group left the party early to relax in the chapel nearby. After hours of dancing with my new friends I, myself now exhausted, went to find my group. When I found them I was greeted with the gleeful smile of my usually reserved new friend Marie. Together we stayed there until the party was done. The next day Marie told me that my coming to find them had made her night, it had felt like we were all family. That hit me hard. It shocks me how such a thing like that, seeking out people where they are, regardless of having been surrounded by festivities in an exotic country, made a night so special for both of us" (Delaney Piper, SU student). 

Another SU student, An Le, shared how her relationship with her sister has changed for the better:

 "My sister and I both went on the trip, and there was not only a personal transformation, but also a change in our relationship.  We have different types of conversations in comparison to before attending Magis and World Youth Day.  There's a different tone when we are discussing religion and spirituality."

I believe we will be reaping the fruit of this pilgrimage for years to come. It is a wondrous thing that in such a large gathering of peoples, we can experience very personal encounters and transformations. 

After the 10 days of MAG+S, the various experience groups reconvened in Rio for the World Youth Day Celebrations with Pope Francis and the final Mass on the Copacabana beach. In his homily he said what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. 

 "Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all; he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love." Pope Francis

Finally, the third line from the flash-mob song: "When everything feels wrong, and darkness falls upon ya. Just try sing along, this is a message from Cabana." The theme, the message from Copacabana was "The Nations Await us" they await the love for one another that we are called to share. A rhetorical question was asked of the pilgrims, "Do people really understand the fullness of God's Mercy to everyone?" and "what would it look like for you to live that mercy in your own life?" I wonder? It makes me full of wonder.

The flash-mob video can be found on YouTube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVfgfKZ-LNo

(Photos provided by Matthew Pyrc, S.J.)

Opening new doors

August 13, 2013

The continuum of Jesuit education in the city of Seattle is about to expand. Seattle Nativity School, an independent, Catholic middle school in the Jesuit tradition, will open in September, taking its place alongside its "older" sister institutions Seattle University and Seattle Prep. Most important, Nativity extends the Jesuits' time-honored commitment to serving those most in need as the school will enroll low-income, at-risk students from the Central District and South Seattle.

Located at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Catholic Church (2800 S. Massachusetts St.), the coed middle school will begin with an inaugural class of about 20 sixth graders and eventually grow to include fifth through eighth graders. To be admitted, students must qualify for the national free and reduced lunch program.

The new school is modeled after the Mission of the Nativity, which was founded by the Jesuits on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1971. Since then about 60 Nativity schools have opened throughout the country. They are known for successfully preparing children from impoverished backgrounds for high school, and ultimately college.

Seattle University has been an active partner in helping to launch Nativity Middle School. Peter Ely, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, left, was involved from the get-go and currently serves on the school's board of directors.

Nativity's curriculum will include a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in addition to the firm grounding in the humanities for which Jesuit education is known and revered.

Another focus of the school is its extended-day and extended-year programming, which is intended to both bolster the students' academic development and provide them with a safe place after hours. (The first class of Nativity students got a head start on the school year by attending the Summer Academy, which ran for four weeks in June and July.)

Joseph Carver, S.J., of the Oregon Province has been named Nativity's first president by the Seattle Nativity School Board and Fr. Provincial Pat Lee, S.J. has made him available for this work. Father Carver most recently served as regional superior of the Jesuits in Montana and previously taught at Seattle Prep.

Just up the road from SU, Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Catholic Church is a fitting home for Nativity. The Jesuits have factored prominently in the history of the parish-a number its pastors have been members of the Society of Jesus, and Pat Twohy, S.J., of SU's Arrupe Jesuit Community currently serves as the church's parochial vicar.

For more information, visit Seattle Nativity School.

New rector signals new era

July 15, 2013

The Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás has appointed Tom Lucas, S.J., art historian at the University of San Francisco, as the new rector of the Arrupe Jesuit Community at Seattle University.

Father Lucas, left, will be formally installed as new rector at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31, at the Chapel of St. Ignatius, as part of the university's celebration of the Feast of St. Ignatius. Lucas will deliver the homily and Pat Howell, S.J.,  who is finishing his term as rector, will preside.

Earlier in the morning SU's Jesuit community will host a continental breakfast at the Arrupe Jesuit Residence, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.  Father Howell encourages faculty and staff to attend one or both of the events "to celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius and our own terrific tradition of Jesuit higher education at Seattle University."

Howell will take a sabbatical this coming year and plans to spend the first three months of it on the staff of America, the well-known, national Jesuit magazine exploring religion, culture and politics.  He will be living at the America house headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

The appointment of a California Jesuit as rector at Seattle University, Howell said, is part of a transition to a new West Coast province, which will occur in 2017. "The Jesuits of the Northwest are currently in the process of discerning the new provincial for the Oregon Province to replace Pat Lee, S.J., who will finish his term in 2014. Whoever is named the next Oregon provincial will become the West Coast provincial three years later."

The new West Coast province will cover a geographic area from the Mexican border to Point Barrow, Alaska, and from the Pacific Ocean to the North Dakota, Colorado and New Mexico borders. As Howell pointed out, the Oregon and California provinces were actually united until 1932 when the north-south split occurred.

The leaderships of the five Jesuit universities (Loyola Marymount University, University of San Francisco, Santa Clara University, Gonzaga University, and SU) on the West Coast have already been meeting annually over the last two years to explore all the possibilities for apostolic collaboration within the boundaries of the new province.

Finding the Sacred in the Everyday

June 19, 2013

Story by Annie Beckmann

It's no small task when you decide to amplify St. Ignatius Loyola's 16th century examination of conscience to make it inviting, relevant and meaningful to a contemporary lay audience.

Since the early 1990s, William Watson, S.J., has been on that winding path. Motivated by a daily spiritual discipline that proved therapeutic in his own life, Father Watson chose to devote his energies to bringing tools for discernment and reflection to a wider audience. Today, he's an evangelist among students, faculty, administrators and chaplains from other faith traditions, connecting them with the spiritual legacy of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order.

Early on, Fr. Watson, left, decided he wanted to build an Ignatian-based retreat program that might guide religious faithful-Catholics and Christians of all ages-around the world.  He served as director of retreats for Georgetown University before he was named vice president for mission at Gonzaga University in 1999. It wasn't until later, though, that he called his program Sacred Stories.

Fr. Watson concentrated on how St. Ignatius developed his Spiritual Exercises with prayers, contemplation and meditations for greater discernment, moral wisdom and, ultimately, deep personal transformation. He reread the saint's autobiography to explore not just the spiritual but the psychological for a closer examination of conscience.

Remarkably, the many life crises Ignatius experienced in the 16th century-narcissism, gambling addiction, aggression and more-make him relevant today, according to Fr. Watson. Learning to recognize who you are, he says, is central to understanding the prayer exercises, which Watson adapted with modern-day approaches for conquering fear, anxiety, grief, sins, addictions and destructive compulsions.

Fr. Watson accumulated thousands of pages of feedback from contemporary Catholic and interfaith audiences on how a 21st-century take on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises might transform a person's dysfunctional patterns into grace and healing.

In his early 50s he completed his doctorate and returned to SU in 2009 as a resident chaplain at Campion Hall (he previously served at SU as liturgy and music director in 1978.) Last year Watson launched the nonprofit Sacred Story Institute (SSI).

Hundreds of spiritual directors and parishioners-including SU students and alumni-throughout the Seattle Archdiocese have been participating in SSI's research project to help create a pastoral resource of Fr. Watson's Sacred Story method, recently published in the book, Forty Weeks: An Ignatian Path to Christ with Sacred Story Prayer. Participants in the Sacred Story program spend one to two 15-minute sessions daily devoted to awakening one's conscience and consciousness through prayer.

Husband, father and engineer Bret Taylor was raised in Evangelical, Fundamentalist and Gospel churches before he became a Catholic nearly seven years ago. He was among 25 parishioners from Our Lady of the Lake in Seattle who signed on to take part in the 10-week Sacred Story prayer exercises featured in Fr. Watson's book, Sacred Story: An Ignatian Examen for the Third Millennium.

"Sacred Story turned out to be very palatable to a new Catholic with roots on the Protestant end of Christianity," says Taylor. "Early on Sacred Story seemed a two-person effort-myself and God. It was a struggle every single day to read and reread the teaching and to pray and think and attempt to internalize the story."

Julie MacAller says she was motivated to participate in the Ignatian prayer exercises because of a negative impression of it and to have a better relationship with God. MacAller is a 2013 graduate of the Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality program in the School of Theology and Ministry.

While taking part in the prayer exercises was mostly solo, MacAller appreciated the monthly group meetings with Fr. Watson at her parish, Holy Family in Kirkland.

"Those meetings were very helpful because I heard where others were struggling," says MacAller, a recent grad of the master's degree in transforming spirituality from the School of Theology and Ministry. "I also had a good friend who was part of the program and we supported each other through our journeys."

It wasn't always easy, though.

"I was constantly anxious at the beginning about whether I was doing them 'right,' which made them more difficult than they needed to be. Beyond that, I found the basic discipline of prayer periods easy," she says.

Jesuit spirituality has always captivated Tom Schutte, coordinator of Campus Ministry and chair of the religion department at O'Dea High School in Seattle.

"Since my high school days, the Ignatian path has helped me gain intimacy with my faith in Christ and shown me a deeply human route to connect with God," he says.

Jesuit educated at high school and at Boston College where he earned a master's degree, Schutte says both settings were influential for his exposure to Ignatian practices.

His parish, Holy Rosary in Edmonds, offered him the opportunity to work with Sacred Story Institute resources for the individual daily retreat experience.

The dedication to mindful Ignatian prayer has been the most valuable aspect for Schutte.

"With daily dedication to the program, the gentle mercy of God will awaken you to a whole new way to live well. … People are hungry for an experience of God's sacred presence, something that is deep, real, personal and living," he explains. "For me, the Sacred Story Institute program fed this hunger in a unique and special way. It has been like a spiritual surgery that opened up troubled areas and infused new healing and human vitality into my life."

Forty Weeks: An Ignatian Path to Christ with Sacred Story Prayer, Fr. Watson's latest book in the Sacred Story series, is a pastoral resource based on the feedback of those who've tried the weeks long program.

No matter who goes through the experience, Fr. Watson says it makes you look at what might be blocking your surrender to God.

"We experience sickness, disease, sadness and emotional dysfunction of all kinds when we turn from God to satisfy the self," he says. "God is the one who can repair our hearts and get us back on the road of integrated healing."

Learn more about the Sacred Story Institute at http://sacredstory.net/

Sacred sculptures

May 20, 2013

Late on a Friday night, Trung Pham, S.J., Seattle University assistant professor of Fine Arts stood among 100 sacred statues at Arrupe Jesuit Residence. With help from Mike Bayard, S.J., director of campus ministry, there was a flurry of activity as they carefully wrapped and nested each sculpted statue in its own cardboard box. 

Father Pham, who joined the faculty in 2012, has an interest in sustaining and promoting sacred art-especially Vietnamese sacred art-which moved him to sculpt "Me Ao Nau" (Our Lady in Vietnamese four-panel traditional dress).

"We don't have a lot of sacred images that have Vietnamese features," he says. "My sculpture introduces a cultural dimension of sacred art."

Fr. Pham's sacred sculptures project was a fundraiser for Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, south of campus. In just one weekend, he sold 70 of the 100 sculptures and raised $1,000 for the parish. 

Some of the plaster sculptures, each with a protective coating of paint, are still for sale. Prospective buyers can contact Fr. Pham directly at art@trung-pham.com or (206) 220-8243.

A show of Fr. Pham's work called "Mother" continues through July 15 at the Ethnic Heritage Art Gallery on the third floor of Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave. He also recently was featured in Northwest Vietnamese News, a primary source of information for and about the Vietnamese community in Washington state.

- Annie Beckmann

Reaching out to refugees

May 3, 2013

As The Commons reported in August 2011, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is teaming up with Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins to offer college courses to people living in refugee camps.

That initiative received a big boost recently, as JRS and Jesuit Commons have signed an agreement with the United Nations that will allow them to expand online courses for refugees and other displaced students.

Speaking to the importance of the program, JRS International Director, Peter Balleis, S.J., said: "Forcibly displaced and frequently living on the margins of society, we have seen how education offers refugees the intellectual nourishment to become the leaders of tomorrow. In the midst of conflict and instability, education can be a form of healing to refugees hungry to rebuild their communities." Click here to read more about the agreement.

Click here for the 2011 Commons article, which highlighted SU's own Janet Quillian, director of the international internship program, who created a course on community health for refugee students in Malawi.

G-DOG features extraordinary Jesuit

April 23, 2013

"G-DOG," a new documentary featuring the life and work of Greg Boyle, S.J., is out now.

Known as "G-Dog" by those he serves, Fr. Boyle is founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, which helps former gang members in Los Angeles turn their lives around. Homeboy has a 70 percent success rate at redirecting kids away from gang life.

"G-DOG," as described by Docurama Films, "tells the entertaining, hilarious and unlikely story of how a white Jesuit priest became an expert in gang lives…(H)e works by a powerful idea: 'Nothing stops a bullet like a job.' G-Dog's unstoppable compassion has transformed the lives of thousands of Latino, Asian, and African American gang members." Click here to learn more about the film.

As anyone who's heard him talk or has read his book Tattoos on the Heart can attest, Boyle is immensely gifted at telling the stories of the people he meets. He has spoken at SU in recent years, including the Spirit of Community celebration in 2007 as well as Leadership Week in 2010.

New leader

April 8, 2013

Michael Sheeran, S.J., is the new president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). He began April 1, succeeding Gregory Lucey, S.J., who served as president from 2011-13. Father Sheeran previously served for 20 years as president of Regis University in Denver.

Father Lucey is returning to Spring Hill College to become chancellor, having previously served at its president. He also served as vice president for development at Seattle University in the late 1970s and '80s.

SU President Stephen Sundborg,S.J., is chair of AJCU's Board of Directors, which is comprised of the presidents of the 28 Jesuit institutions in the country.

 

Birthday sweets

March 26, 2013

By Annie Beckmann

In the last edition of The Commons, we visited with Margaret Garrett, Mary Odegaard and Kip Kniskern, the trio of chefs who cook for SU's Jesuits.

Odegaard, left, is the cook who asks all members of the campus Jesuit community what their favorite desserts are, then takes the time to make them for birthday celebrations. When a priest is too agreeable and says most any dessert would be just fine, she asks, "But what did your Mom make for your birthdays that you really liked?"

Here's a look at the list of favorites she creates for birthdays of every Jesuit.

Dave Anderson - German chocolate cake

Mike Bayard - Pumpkin cheesecake with chocolate crust

Brendan Busse - Berry pie

Emmett Carroll - Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Bob Egan - White cake with white butter cream frosting

Peter Ely - Chocolate cake with white frosting or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

John Foster - Marsala zabaglione or creme brulee

Ron Funke - Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Lorenzo Herman - Rum bundt cake with walnuts

Pat Howell - Carrot cake with nuts and cream cheese frosting

Mike Kelliher - Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting

Pat Kelly - Vanilla ice cream pie with graham cracker crust

David Leigh - Angel food cake with chocolate frosting

Tom Murphy - White cake with peanut butter frosting

Natch Ohno - Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting

Pat O'Leary - White cake with lemon frosting or lemon meringue pie

William O'Malley - Tiramisu

Trung Pham - Cheesecake

Matthew Pyrć - Cheesecake

Jim Reichmann - Lemon cake with lemon frosting

Steve Sundborg - White cake with lemon curd and white butter cream frosting

James Taiviet Tran - Angel food cake

John Topel - Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting

Pat Twohy - German chocolate cake

Josef Venker - Vanilla cake with strawberries and whipped cream, lemon meringue pie or vanilla bean ice cream with madeleine cookies

Bill Watson - Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and raspberry cream frosting

Eric Watson - Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting

Jason Welle - Chocolate/peanut butter ice cream cake 

Contemplative Leaders in Action

March 12, 2013

SU graduate Haley Woods is living proof that a Jesuit education can lead you in some unexpected directions. A participant in Contemplative Leaders in Action, a two-year program launched by Magis: Alumni Living the Mission last year for emerging leaders in the 20s and 30s, Woods is a full-time high school teacher, bike aficionado, and now the founder and owner of a brewery.

I am Jesuit educated

February 26, 2013

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities has launched a new website featuring a new "I am Jesuit educated" campaign. The campaign features, among others, public health leader Dr. Anthony Fauci, professional football player London Fletcher and financial manager extraordinaire Peter Lynch.

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities serves the 28 Jesuit institutions in the United States. Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., is chair of AJCU's Board of Directors, which includes the member schools' presidents.